Curtis Mayfield, who would have turned 78 today, is best known for his smooth, soulful pipes, but he was also one of music’s most prominent social commentators. His success with The Impressions during the Civil Rights movement and later as a solo artist left a huge mark, not just on the African American community, but well beyond. In 1972, he recorded the soundtrack to the blaxploitation crime drama Super Fly, which addressed issues like poverty and drug abuse and became one of his most beloved albums.
On November 2, 1972, Mayfield performed three songs from Super Fly at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. On Super Fly, Mayfield skillfully melds intricate psych-funk with slick soul, and this performance captures Mayfield’s swift guitar improvisation and his gentle yet transcendent vocals.
Read: An Exclusive Excerpt from the Curtis Mayfield Biography, Traveling Soul
Watch Curtis Mayfield’s full performance from 1972 below.